How do you update a classic? If the Air Jordan VIII – released during the 1992-93 NBA season – traveled into the future, it would see its progeny in the Air Jordan 8.0. Featuring some structural upgrades like the breathable mesh panels and Flywire-laden crossing mid-foot straps, the Air Jordan 8.0 captures both the nostalgic flavor and new-age design that has been the formula for most of Jordan Brand’s non-retro releases over the last few years. But how did we get to this point? Let’s take a look at the evolution of the Air Jordan VIII.
1993: MJ’s high-performance kicks embodied the all-out philosophy that enabled him to three-peat as a world champion. The radical shoe was fully tricked-out with anti-inversion straps, a polycarbonate torsion plate, ultra-bold colors and even a fuzzy Jumpman tongue logo. The eighth version of the Air Jordan was also heavier than previous models. Its base was close to its predecessor, but it had a lot more details, accents and color – specifically with a unique color splash on the midsole.
It was very surprising that this shoe was only made in three different colorways – White/Black-True Red (“Bugs Bunny”), Black/Bright Concord-Aqua Tone (“Aqua”) and Black-Black-True Red (“Playoffs”). Previous models had sold very well, and so did the VIIIs, so it’s a mystery as to why Nike decided not to make more of these. Even the quantity of the shoes produced was lower than the Air Jordan VII.
The popular “Aqua” colorway was debuted by MJ at the 1993 NBA All-Star Game, while the “Playoffs” colorway was the shoe he wore en route to the 1993 NBA Championship. And if you’re wondering about the “Bugs Bunny,” all you need to do is watch the commercial. This subsequently became the inspiration for Space Jam which hit theaters in 1996.
In terms of on-court achievements, MJ got his seventh straight scoring title in these, as well as his 20,000th point. It was also the last shoe that he wore before retiring the first time.
It is interesting to note that Tinker Hatfield didn’t want the VIII to feature the Nike swoosh, feeling the Jordan brand was strong enough at that point to hold its own. Hatfield brought this idea up to Nike as early as the Air Jordan VI, and after a lot of convincing, was finally able to make this happen for the VIII.